Throw The Bums Out!

I mentioned last week that, had America defaulted after the debt ceiling crisis, that the president, vice president, and everyone currently in Congress should be tossed out as soon as their term expires, and that none of them should be voted into another office. Now that presents an interesting scenario.

For starters, Michele Bachmann would not be able to become president, assuming the national mood took her out during the primaries. President Obama and Vice President Biden would no doubt be renominated, so the next president would be a Republican. Just not one holding a House or Senate seat. The good news, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, is that the eventual 45th President would likely be a governor. With the exception of Bush 43, governors and vice-presidents since World War I have tended to make better presidents than legislators. Exceptions, of course, would be Truman and Kennedy. And Carter’s post-presidency is more admired than his presidency. It’s not an absolute rule, but a scenario that increases the odds of a successful presidency.

The House, which has only two-year terms, would have to start completely over from scratch. Who would be the majority leader? The minority leader? The Speaker? These are all posts determined in large part by seniority. John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi could not have held the Speaker’s chair a decade ago. But in a House of Representatives where everyone is a freshman, or at least returning after time away from Capitol Hill, no one would have seniority.

Also, the House would most definitely become Democratic. Good for the new president? Depends on how pragmatic he is. Republican presidents tend to do better with Democratic Houses than Democratic presidents do with Republican Houses. Of course, if everyone’s a freshman, the rules for each party might change. We might even see new parties spring up, since third parties would smell blood and move in for the kill.

But the national mood would have to stay against the incumbents for at least four years. Only 33 senators are up for reelection. The other 67 would keep their jobs until 2014 or 2016. With a nation angry enough to turn out the incumbents, those 67 would have 2-4 years to ingratiate themselves. Plus several of them would move up the food chain into leadership positions.

Is this scenario feasible? Not really. It’s easy to turn out a president. Bush 41 was the last to be kicked out of office come election time. There’s a chance it could happen to Obama. But for some reason, voters think that everyone else’s Congressman or Senator sucks, but theirs is doing a good job. And for many, party loyalty factors more strongly than anything else in the voting booth. For instance, John Boehner will be back next term. The Republican Party in Butler County is not going to give up having the Speakership located in its district without a fight, and most people in Boehner’s district would sooner vote for Jeffrey Dahmer than vote for a Democrat. This pattern repeats itself all over the US across all party lines.

But what would happen if we did replace all of them?

Might be chaos at first. But how many pre-conceived Beltway notions would melt away in the process?

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Ebookery: Allan Guthrie

Allan Guthrie is the triple threat in crime fiction. He’s the author of such books at Kiss Her Goodbye and The Hard Man. He is the former editor at Point Blank Press. And he is an agent with Jenny Brown & Associates, with a stable that includes Anthony Neil Smith, Sandra Ruttan, and Christa Faust. Al’s started moving into the ebook arena and took a few minutes to talk about his experiences.

You have an unusual position dealing with ebooks as both an author and as an agent. What sort of perspective does that give you on the subject?

It’s been interesting. My first introduction to ebooks was through one of my clients, John Rector. A few years back, when he was still unpublished, he told me he wanted to put one of his books out on Kindle. I thought it was a bad idea and said so. He did it anyway and ended up making the best decision of his career. NYC had been sitting on another of his books, The Cold Kiss, for about nine months at that point, and it ended up selling because he suddenly had a big pile of Kindle sales, great reviews and a bunch of enthusiastic readers who wanted to see more from him. I’d only seen the negatives — that he’d no longer be a debut author, that he’d be tarred with the self-publishing brush, etc. Didn’t take long to realise that none of that mattered any more, though. That was the moment my attitude changed (thanks, John!) and I started finding out everything I could about the digital arena. I expect if I wasn’t an agent at the time I wouldn’t have been so keen to learn more.

I’m fairly well versed now, I think. Ebooks have become one of my obsessions. As an agent, it’s tough to know what’s best for authors these days. Should you sign a publishing deal for 25% net profits on your digital royalties, for instance? As an author, I wouldn’t. But given that there’s no wiggle room because it’s the industry standard (unless you want to offer less, which apparently is just fine), a lot of authors will take what they’re offered rather than forego the chance of being published. And while I respect that decision, it makes me very fucking angry to see writers being treated so badly.

Several of your clients – Anthony Neil Smith, Dave White, and Declan Burke to name a few – have gone the self-published route with Kindle and Smashwords. Did you play a role in their decisions? And what is your involvement in those books as an agent?

I think it’s fair to say that most have come to me for advice, yes. In some cases I’ve edited the manuscripts. And I’ve offered advice on formatting, uploading, cover design, marketing, etc, to many. Once they’re self-published, though, my involvement in those books as an agent is non-existent. One or two have offered me my standard commission where I’ve done some heavy editorial work, but I’ve declined, since that wasn’t our agreement at the outset.

In at least one case, you had to deal with the changes at Dorchester. Were there any challenges around that you can talk about?

Not in any meaningful way.
As an author, you’ve put out two ebooks on your own as well. How has that worked for you so far?

Amazingly well. One of them, my first police thriller, Bye Bye Baby, was in the top 10 on Amazon UK for most of February, and the other, Killing Mum, peaked at #25. Bye Bye Baby dipped inside the top 200 at Amazon.com during May, too. My ebook sales of those two books since January have far out-stripped seven years worth of print sales, despite having five novels and two novellas in print.
You’ve also re-released some of your earlier work on your own. Tell us the advantages you saw going that route?

I’ve only released one title so far: my debut, Two-Way Split. But the other four novels will be following shortly. It all came about because we brokered a deal with my UK publisher that allowed me to sub-license my Kindle rights. Effectively, I’m the publisher, so I have control over the layout, the cover design, the product information, the price, etc. I can also do things that my print publisher couldn’t do, such as put together an omnibus of Pearce stories, which might include two novels, a novella, and a short story or two, for example. And I can also get access to real-time sales figures from Amazon, something a lot of publishers don’t seem to be able to do – and that’s extremely useful, as you might imagine, since it tells you what kind of marketing is having an effect.

What’s in the pipeline for you?

Besides rolling out new editions of my backlist titles, I’m completely rewriting a previously print-published novella, Kill Clock. I’m also intended putting together an omnibus of the novellas called Three To Kill. And I’m also working on a couple of new novels – one’s a police thriller (my first attempt at novel length) and the other’s a noir love story . There’s a very exciting new venture in the pipeline too, involving ebooks. If you invite me back in October, I’ll tell you all about it.

BIO:

Allan Guthrie is an award-winning Scottish crime writer. His debut novel, TWO-WAY SPLIT, was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger award and went on to win the Theakston’s Crime Novel Of The Year in 2007. The brand new Kindle version is available right now for the bargain price of 99p at Amazon UK and 99 cents at Amazon.com. He is the author of four other novels: KISS HER GOODBYE (nominated for an Edgar), HARD MAN, SAVAGE NIGHT and SLAMMER and three novellas: KILL CLOCK , KILLING MUM and BYE BYE BABY, a Top Ten Amazon Bestseller. When he’s not writing, he’s a literary agent with Jenny Brown Associates.

My Town Monday Cincinnati – Camp Dennison

At the eastern end of Galbraith Road sits Camp Dennison.  Now an unincorporated village, Camp Dennison began life as one of the most important Army camps in the Civil War. In 1861, as the war broke out, Ohio Governor William Dennison ordered George McClellan, then commander of the Department of Ohio, to locate and build a military recruitment, training, and medical facility as close to the Ohio River as possible. What made the need so urgent was Kentucky’s ambiguous status. It had not seceded the Union, but as a slave state, had a large contingent of Confederate sympathizers.

At the height of the war, the camp supported a population of 50,000 troops. Situated on the Little Miami Railroad, which terminated at Cincinnati’s Public Landing (near Great American Ball Park and US Bank Arena), the camp was far enough from the Ohio River to isolate it from potential attack, but ideally situated to defend the city by railroad on short notice.

A few buildings from the original camp still stand, along with the camp’s cannon.

 

The camp was not immune from combat, however. A band of raiders under the command of John Morgan crossed the Ohio River in Illinois and began wreaking havoc on southern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Morgan struck at nearby Miamiville, hoping to cripple the Little Miami Railroad. Troops traveled by rail two miles and repelled the Confederates, driving them eastward where they were eventually captured.

At the end of the war, the camp was decommissioned and the land sold off to locals. A small village arose, some of the buildings built from lumber from the dismantled camp. Unincorporated, the village remains today.

The one indication, besides the monument and the cannon, of the town’s military past is a rifle range where, if you bike along the Little Miami Trail, the former railroad, you can hear gun reports from visitors practicing.

More at the My Town Monday blog.

In This Rain By SJ Rozan

SJ Rozan takes a swipe at New York politics, real estate, and corruption in her 2007 standalone novel, In This Rain. In the Bronx, a site called Mott Haven, which is supposed to begin the revitalization of the rather unglamorous outer borough of New York, suffers a series of accidents that puts Mayor Charlie Barr on edge. The city has already taken a black eye on corruption in its building oversight only a couple of years before. Barr might have been able to let the Department of Investigation and the NYPD handle this on their own, but several bricks fell off one of the buildings under construction, killing a woman on her way home from work. Dead local residents don’t bode well for a city that’s supposed to have cleaned house.

They put Ann Montgomery, a sassy blonde who drives her Boxster in a way that would make James Bond nervous, on the case. She, in turn, hands her evidence to her former partner, Joe Cole to look over.  Cole, whose career as an investigator ended in the previous witch hunt, spots the deliberate tampering right off the bat, but who’s tampering? Is it Ford Corrington, the Harlem community organizer outraged that the Trumps and Silversteins of New York want to get their hands on Manhattans last refuge for working class blacks? Is it Walter Glybenhall, the wannabe player in New York’s real estate game who’s losing money on the Mott Haven project? Maybe it’s Edgar Westermann, the Manhattan borough president who wants Charlie Barr’s job.

The finger of blame keeps shifting from chapter to chapter. It doesn’t help that Ann has been put on the case despite having an acrimonious past with Glybenhall. Montgomery is everything you’d want in an investigator – tough, tenacious, diligent. She is also loyal, turning to Cole for help in an effort to lure him back after doing time for the trumped charge in the city’s previous building scandal. That loyalty turns romantic, and as some of Glybenhall’s machinations turn on Montgomery, it’s the previously broken Cole who is supporting an increasingly shaky Ann.

As interesting as Montgomery is Charlie Barr, the well-intentioned mayor who slowly realizes he’s more corrupt than he thought. The popular mayor called “Hizzoner” by the local press (a nickname that’s largely disappeared since the early days of Giuliani). Barr goes from worrying about renewed corruption among the building inspectors of the city to doing damage control to salvage his plans to run for governor.

Then there’s Edgar Westermann, who oozes sleaze as he tries to manipulate the mayor, cozying up to Glybenhall and playing the race card. Westermann stands to gain the most from the latest scandal and disaster if he games it right.

Rozan has a rapid-fire, dialog driven style of writing. Her New York is a native’s New York, but her best setting is Joe Cole’s cabin, dubbed Heart’s Content. Cole retreats to the elaborate garden he’s created out back. Eventually it becomes Ann’s refuge, too. In This Rain is a rich tapestry of modern New York.

Coming 9-1-2011

September 1, 2011.

That which I once called EVIL YET AWESOME will invade your ereader, assault your eyes, and slap your brain around silly.

And it will leave you begging for more.

I speak, of course, of Road Rules, now coming to Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.

What is Road Rules?

Said JD Rhoades, author of the Jack Keller series,

…Every so often, I want to read about bad people doing bad things, and doing so with the kind of dark, twisted humor that shows us, not the banality of evil, but the absurdity of it.

Jim Winter gives us all that, and more, in ROAD RULES.

 

And that’s exactly what it is. As the city of Cleveland reels from the theft of an important relic for the Catholic Church right out from under the mayor’s nose, a luckless insurance drone and a hapless repo head for Florida, thinking the delivery of a collectible Cadillac Coupe DeVille is the perfect side job to help them bury their problems.  Little do they know who else wants that car – Cinnamon, the truckstop hooker who is more than she appears; Tim Mason, the shift claims manager who engineered the theft of the holy relic; and Julian Franco, a Cuban drug lord from Miami who has a raging coke habit, an insatiable appetite for bimbos, and a faith in the Catholic Church that even the Church finds a bit disturbing. The trip will lead them from Cleveland through the wilds of West Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains, into a Confederate themed BBQ joint in South Carolina, and finally on a wild, climactic chase through sleepy Savannah, Georgia.

Said Gerald So, editor of The Lineup and former fiction editor for The Thrilling Detective Web Site, said

Reading the novel again brings to mind discovering a book I hadn’t heard about by a favorite author, not a series book, but a standalone in which the author stretches himself creatively. It’s the kind of novel you may not have gotten to read before ebooks, precisely the kind I download in a snap.

Just in time for Labor Day gift-giving and the fall leaf season.

The Unpopular Take On The Debt Crisis

Nobody’s happy about the recent debt ceiling deal. A few idiots out there are actually blaming Standard & Poor’s. Why? Shooting the messenger, apparently, seems to be a logical reaction in some people’s minds.

However, while we cannot deny that this deal was the result of a manufactured crisis – the debt ceiling is raised even in the best of times because, hey, it’s damned expensive to run a country, especially this one – what’s being missed here is what actually happened.

In reality, the deficit portion of this farce could have been addressed two or three years ago. Unfortunately, the banks seemed to think we needed to compensate them for their collectivity stupidity. Since banks hold and move the money all over the world, the bankers are like the brother-in-law you’re always bailing out of jail. Only if you don’t bail out Citigroup, you go broke. If you don’t bail out your brother-in-law, Thanksgiving is a little quieter this year.

That said, had the banks not sucked the Treasury dry after wrecking the housing market, 2007 or 2008 would have been the perfect time to start tackling the deficit. Last year would have been almost as good. But let’s not kid ourselves. Even if we’ve got piles of money locked up in the Federal Reserve running a surplus, the government has to borrow money to run the country on a day-to-day basis. All businesses do, even when they run in the black. All raising the debt ceiling does is makes sure the bills get paid. The deficit might be affected by it, but it really is a separate issue. And the Tea Party freshmen in Congress need to stop bullshitting us that it isn’t. Ego and ideology need to be stripped completely from this issue.

And the Bengals need to hire a general manager. I fully expect politicians to put their egos aside before that happens, but not in this lifetime.

So what did happen? And why is it a good thing? Wasn’t the deficit deal not enough?

Well, no. Nothing is not enough. Next to nothing is not enough. The cuts made are about half of what the most ardent deficit hawks wanted to see. So why am I saying this is good? Because somebody finally put a pressure bandage on the wound. More importantly, America has done something it hasn’t done in quite a while: Taken the lead on a global problem.

That’s right. We’re not the only ones maxxing out the national credit card. Europe is bailing out Greece. Again. And Portugal. Again. And Italy. Again.  Britain’s debt has already been downgraded. France just got downgraded. If you want to know why the stock market is so wonky, look across the Atlantic. Right now, they’re still in bailout mode. They need to start slashing, and soon.

Sure, the government kicked the can down the road again. But not as far as they did it before. And nobody said the solution would make anyone happy.

But really, people, you’re whining too much.

Of course, I said before the debt ceiling issue was resolved, that if America had defaulted, every single representative, senator, and the president and vice president should be collectively turned out as soon as their terms expired, simply because they collectively would have been complicit in such an unacceptable dereliction of duty. And not a single sitting representative or senator should be allowed to win an election after that debacle.

It didn’t happen, but everyone on Capitol Hill and in the White House ought to be afraid of that kind of backlash.